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Live Better With’s Head of New Product Development talks through the design process of the new Reminder Day Clock, and how it’s been made as effective as possible for people living with dementia.

Time orientation can be an issue for many people living with dementia. No longer knowing the day, or time of day can be disorientating and can have a knock-on effect on sleep patterns, eating, and generally anything that involves keeping to a routine.

Many of our customers have found easy to read ‘day clocks’ a great help in keeping track. We get a lot of feedback on how this simple intervention can improve people’s lives, we’ve even heard they’ve improved relationships where family carers are no longer being constantly asked the time and becoming irritated with their loved ones.

When we launched the Unforgettable 2-in-1 Calendar and Day Clock in 2016 we succeeded in bringing down the price of these type of products, meaning they were more accessible to a broader audience. We also combined 2 different screens in one clock, one that showed the time, day and date and one that simply said the time of day, for example “now it’s Saturday morning”. In doing this we helped make the product suitable for more people living with dementia and potentially useful for a longer time on their dementia journey.

However, we’ve never rested on our laurels. We’re always looking to improve our products and constantly listening to feedback from our customers and community. We saw there was an opportunity to improve on the 2-in-1 Calendar and Day Clock and all the feedback we’ve collected has been incorporated into the design of the all new Reminder Day Clock.

For the Reminder Day Clock we decided to start from a blank sheet of paper, and design a new day clock that was as appealing and effective as can be, whilst still being good value for money. Customers had told us that they’d like the ability to set reminders for routine things like taking tablets and important events like doctor’s appointments, as well as a talking clock function. They also told us that they’d like it to be easier to use and easier to change the time for daylight savings, so we took this all on board.

Making it easy to see

First and foremost, it was important the clock was as easy to see and understand as possible. We know a lot of our clocks are used by people with visual impairment, so we consulted experts at VIDA (Visual Impairment and Disability Awareness) to help us with this. They advised that free space around the words and numbers was as important as their size, so they can be focused on one at a time and the reader can better understand their shape. In order to achieve this, we changed the screen from a landscape to a portrait format. We also took inspiration from British road signs here, which used a mix of capitals and lower-case letters in a simple rounded typeface, to make them easy to read from a distance. VIDA also told us that some people find certain colour combinations easier to read than others, and for this reason all the clock displays are available in white letters on a black background, black letters on a white background and black letters on a yellow background.

Making it easy to use

Up until now, most day clocks have been based on the design of digital photo frames. This means they can be tricky to set up and change the time. The buttons are located at the back and you can’t see them and see what is happening on the screen at the same time. Our design changes that, with the buttons on the front and a completely new menu structure. Our design was inspired by ATMs, where the purpose of the button changes on different screens, but it is always clearly labelled on the screen. The menu also features an easy to read overview of the reminders that are currently set on the clock for quick reference, editing or deleting. While making it easy to use, we also wanted to make sure it wasn’t possible to change the settings by accident, so it requires pressing both the outer buttons at the same time to access the menu.

Making it easy to hear

Given that many people living with dementia may also be hard of hearing, and a voice coming from a clock may be slightly confusing to some, it was important that the reminders and the talking clock feature were as clear and as friendly as possible. For this, our friendly customer service advisor Hannah stepped in to record the reminder messages and all the numbers for the talking clock. We’ve also added a volume control in case they’re not loud enough, and the facility to record your own reminder messages should you need ones we haven’t thought of.

We’re pleased with the design of our new Reminder Day Clock, but what do you think? We’d love to hear your feedback and how we can improve it even further. Email theteam@livebetterwith.com to let us know your thoughts.